I got asked a great question in a marketing workshop this week.
I had convinced the participant of the value of blogging as a marketing tool, particularly through the WordPress engine, but they were not ready to update their website yet.
They asked whether there was any way to start blogging before they pulled a website budget together.
The short answer was, yes!
To be clear, the WordPress world can be confusing at first when you discover that WordPress is available at a wordpress.com and wordpress.org.
In this, the 10th anniversary year of WordPress, let me explain the basic differences, and then the reasons why I would choose either one.
The main differences between wordpress.com and wordpress.org
Firstly, WordPress itself is an open source, website content management system, freely available for anybody to use worldwide, free of charge.
It accounts for approximately one in every four or five websites on the planet and Google knows how to get deep inside and find the content in WordPress websites.
Here are the differences.
- WordPress is provided, fully installed on the worpdress.com servers
- You go to the site and create a free account and name for your blog/site, which instantly creates a web address such as mynewsite.wordpress.com
- You can choose a theme or design from the thousands of free options available
- You can create Pages and blog Posts instantly
- You can pay US$13 per blog per domain per year to have your new site appear on your own domain name
- You can pay US$30 per year to have no ads on your site – they sometimes appear to non-WordPress users who visit your hosted site and are quite discreet
- All maintenance is done for you
- WordPress is available here for you or your webmaster to download it onto YOUR server (yes, you need to buy some web hosting upon which you will install WordPress, typically around $110 a year in Australia)
- If you seek help (recommended because experienced WordPress installers have certain tricks and settings they put in place to enhance usability and security) you only pay for your webmaster’s time; WordPress is free
- You or your web developer can choose or create a theme or design for your website
- You can create Pages and blog Posts as soon as you start developing your site
- You or your webmaster needs to check the site weekly and install any updates as they become available – takes a couple of minutes in return for enhanced security and features from the ever active WordPress developer community
- You or your webmaster can access thousands of free or inexpensive plugins to add extra functionality to your site, eg, ecommerce, forms, analytics, slideshows, etc.
When to choose wordpress.com
As someone who helps others market their businesses and organisations, I always recommend running self-hosted WordPress sites, drawn from the WordPress.org repository.
This is because you are in control of your installation, have ability to customise to your heart’s content, and get to teach Google that your SITE and DOMAIN are the centre of the universe for all things relating to your field, through your web content and blogs published on your site.
However, if you cannot afford even our WordPress starter package for $1,995 plus GST and hosting, or don’t want to touch your existing website, I then consider wordpress.com a worthwhile option.
The fact that you can sign up and start immediately, enables you to start your online marketing journey today.
Furthermore, wordpress.com blogs exist in a community on that site, making it easier for other bloggers to discover your work and share it on.
As another bonus, the wordpress.com team hand selects a number of blogs each day to feature on the wordpress.com homepage, which can lead to large spike in new visitors to your work.
However, blogging as a marketing tool is really at its best when it is being used to slowly and surely build your online content and profile so that Google and other internet users can become aware of you and easily direct others to you.
To that end, as long as you are strategically contributing to your online marketing content through either channel, wordpress.com or wordpress.org, you are investing in your future prosperity.